Breast Augmentation

Breast augmentation is enlargement of the breast, usually done by inserting an implant beneath the breast to make it look larger.

It will enlarge breasts that have always been small, but can also be used to fill out breasts that used to be larger (for example following pregnancy). Breast augmentation will reshape breasts to some extent, and can also be used to correct breast hat are of unequal size. Patients who have breast augmentation tend to be very pleased with the results, however, it is essential that you understand what can and can't be achieved, the limitations of surgery and the long-term consequences of having breast implants.

We have produced a printed version of the guide for people considering breast augmentation
Copies are available by emailing the secretariat or download a PDF 

Whilst this booklet is quite detailed it is intended to complement a consultation with a surgeon who can explain what is appropriate for you and what you might expect from surgery. Every patient is different and it is unwise to go into cosmetic surgery with a fixed view about what you want done and how it will turn out. Hopefully, following a consultation with the surgeon who will be doing your operation, and this guide, you will have put yourself in a position to make an informed decision.

What is my next step?

It is recommended that you consult your GP if you are considering breast augmentation. Your GP will be able to refer you to a local plastic surgeon to discuss your options. You don’t need to travel far and wide to have this surgery. A local private hospital will have plastic surgeons who work there and possibly also in your local NHS hospital. 

Some patients will choose to approach a private hospital or clinic without seeing their GP.  If you do this you should ensure that your initial consultation will be with the surgeon who will be doing the operation. Your surgeon will normally seek permission to write to your GP following your consultation.

You should expect to pay a fee for your consultation. At your first consultation you will be asked what is bothering you about your breasts and about your expectations from the surgery. You will be examined and some discussion will follow about implant shapes and possible sizes. If you are considered suitable you will be told about the operation, the expected outcome and possible risks and complications. You should be given a ‘cooling-off’ period of at least 2 weeks before having surgery, and you will usually be offered a second consultation.

How can I check my surgeon’s qualifications?


You can check in advance that the surgeon is on the specialist register of the General Medical Council in plastic surgery. This is done on www.gmc-uk.org; click the link ‘Check a doctor’s registration status’, type in the surgeon’s name and/or GMC number and their details will appear. Under ‘Status’ they should be listed as “Registered with a licence to practise; this doctor is on the specialist register”. Under ‘More details’ ‘Specialist Register entry date’ you will see the specialty under which the surgeon is registered. You can also check on the BAPRAS website to see if the surgeon is a Full Member of the Association. There are other membership categories of BAPRAS, but only Full Members are on the Specialist Register for Plastic Surgery.

Many patients use internet search engines to look up doctors and services. You should bear in mind that information accessed in this fashion may be promotional in nature. listing. A prominent listing is not a measure
of service quality. Sometimes doctors other than plastic surgeons offer breast augmentation and other cosmetic surgery. It is entirely reasonable to ask your surgeon about their qualifications, experience and registered specialty.

How much will it cost?


Before your consultation it should be possible to obtain an approximate cost for the surgery from your local private hospital or the surgeon’s secretary. After your consultation you will be sent a quote regarding the cost. You should receive this in writing. You should avoid any deal in non-refundable deposit. In addition, you should not be offered a financial inducement to proceed, and you should avoid any such offer or time-limited deal. Even an agreement to refund a consultation fee if you proceed with surgery is considered an inducement and against GMC guidance.

It is appropriate to be offered a package price that covers the entire process and the cost of treating any complications arising in the initial weeks after the operation. Many hospitals will also offer a satisfaction backup, agreeing to manage dissatisfaction as well as complications for a specified period. You should establish exactly what your quoted package includes.

As with most things in life you get what you pay for and the cheapest deal will rarely be the best. Cosmetic surgery involves a significant financial commitment and you should ensure you are getting what you need. We would advise against taking out loans to finance cosmetic surgery. You should only proceed when you have the financial means to do so. In fact wise counsel in respect of breast augmentation is to have the funds needed twice; one amount is used to pay for the operation and an equivalent amount is put away in savings so that it is available in the future should revision surgery be needed.

Is this surgery available on the NHS?


Cosmetic breast augmentation is generally not available on the NHS so you will have to consult a plastic surgeon as a private patient and pay for the operation yourself. There are some exceptions to this rule. In some parts of the country the local NHS rules will allow consultations and operations for patients with small breasts in certain circumstances. These exceptional circumstances vary from region to region. 

In general, patients with absent breast tissue, very little breast tissue or marked asymmetry might be considered exceptional. Your GP will be able to tell you about the local rules in your area.

Why is there a ‘cooling-off’ period?


Breast augmentation is a lifetime commitment. It is essential that you are making the appropriate choice and
understand all the implications of the surgery you are considering. You may need revision surgery as the years go by and you need to be prepared personally and financially for this. Nobody needs an urgent breast augmentation. If you are not offered a cooling-off period, or you are put under pressure to proceed, you should walk away and look elsewhere.

Read More


Implant techniques
What complications can occur?
Other information

Guide Authors


Editor: Joe O'Donoghue, Consultant plastic surgeon, Newcastle upon Tyne
David Coleman, Consultant plastic surgeon, Oxford
Anita Hazari, Consultant plastic surgeon, East Grinstead
Andy Malyon, Consultant plastic surgeon, Glasgow
John Scott, Consultant plastic surgeon, Glasgow
Go to top